Foot traffic is the lifeline of drugstores. Even if door-to-door delivery is now available, most people are used to visiting drugstores to run errands and buy medicines. However, the rise of e-commerce significantly dwindled foot traffic in drugstores. And when the pandemic hit, it accelerated the growth of e-commerce, further threatening brick-and-mortars.
On top of that, the pandemic forced many people to delay getting medical treatments. Consequently, they also stopped buying their medicines.
Reports say that many people who avoided drugstores in the past two years consolidated their shopping trips in other channels. For instance, they went to supermarkets or shopped online to get everything they needed instead of dropping by the drugstore. Even the loyal customers of specific drugstores opted for click-and-collect and curbside pickup options, the safer and quicker options that also reduced the chances of impulse buying.
Many drugstores will experience steep declines in sales if low foot traffic continues. Thus, they should consider these ingenious strategies to revive foot traffic:
1. Boost In-Store and Curbside Pickup Services
Although reviving foot traffic is crucial, drugstores should also adapt to their customers’ changing needs. Resisting the change and forcibly promoting traditional practices may affect customers’ trust in drugstores. Besides, drugstores are supposed to promote health safety, given their industry. Doing the opposite will ruin their brand and reputation.
Therefore, drugstores with in-store and curbside pickup options should focus on attracting customers for those services. Industry data from 2021 showed that curbside and in-store pickup went up to 300% of pre-pandemic levels. In addition, in-store pickup often led to additional purchases.
Drugstores should consider creating special deals or promos for curbside and in-store pickup customers. For example, they can offer freebies or gifts with purchases. They may partner with a specific brand with a new product to attract customers who may be interested in trying them.
2. Offer In-Store Vaccinations
Many American adults haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19 yet. They have various reasons, with 1.7 percent of them citing that it’s hard for them to get the vaccine. It may be an insignificant number, but 1.7 percent of millions is still a lot of people.
Drugstores can help these people by offering in-store vaccinations. Ben Antenore, an analyst at research and consulting firm Kantar, says that drug retailers believe that most people they accommodate for vaccinations are new customers. However, they face the challenge of building a relationship with these people and turning them into regular customers.
Because of that, drugstores should set long-term goals while increasing foot traffic now. They can offer other vaccinations, such as the yearly flu shot. Coupons and merchandise near the vaccination areas may also help. Drugstores should play a proactive role in engaging with customers and providing a positive experience worth coming back for.
3. Improve Traffic Flow
The traffic flow of a space can influence customers’ experience. For instance, a cramped drugstore with barely a path between shelves may discourage customers from buying products other than medicine. On the contrary, an airy, spacious drugstore that allows customers to push carts between shelves may encourage buying wellness products besides medicine.
The pandemic has intensified people’s dislike or fear for cramped spaces. Hence, drugstores with poor traffic flow should redesign their spaces. They can learn from interior designers who specialize in open floor plans. In addition, drugstores can draw ideas from small but airy restaurants and clinics.
Designing for traffic flow requires expert-level space planning. Drugstore owners can’t simply move shelves to the side and leave one big open space in the middle where customers can line up and buy products simultaneously. Furthermore, drugstore owners should consider the traffic flows in backrooms or stock rooms. If the staff takes too long to get a medicine, that’s another factor affecting foot traffic. The disgruntled customer may not return to the drugstore again because of the sluggish service.
So, some drugstores should invest in high-quality healthcare supply carts instead of strategically re-arranging shelves. These carts help staff move products from one place to another smoothly and quickly. As a result, they can speed up their service and encourage more customers to buy prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
4. Promote Wellness Products
Wellness products, especially those in the beauty category, have helped pandemic-fatigued customers feel pampered during stressful times. So drugstores should promote wellness products more and offer perks to walk-in customers who would buy them. They can use the same strategy for curbside and in-store pickup customers, such as gifts with purchase or freebies. Everyone could use a freebie nowadays, with so much negativity happening every day.
Drugstores can revive foot traffic and increase their sales by using these strategies. The world may not go back to normal yet, but people can at least find comfort in shopping and running errands like they used to.